Maharashtra Open 2018: Yuki Bhambri through to Round 2 after overcoming stiff test from Arjun Kadhe
The worst draw you can hope for in a high-tier ATP event of a country is for two of its countrymen squaring off in the first round. However, that is what those assembled at the centre court of the Balewadi Stadium in Pune were privy to on the second day of the Maharashtra Open.
Indian Number 1, Yuki Bhambri, took on the local boy, Arjun Kadhe, to book a slot in round 2 of the ATP 250 tournament. It was the experience of Bhambri that helped him come out the winner of the contest with a 6-3, 6-4 score-line that looks easier than it was.
Kadhe started off with power, firing first serves in the range of 190-210 kmph. He did not look rattled by the magnitude of the occasion and a cracking backhand down the line that won him his first point of the match showed that he was ready for the ensuing fight.
Bhambri, on the other hand, took time to read Kadhe’s game and to the window to get acclimatized to the conditions. However, after he got his eye in, the 28-year-old got to business straight away and broke in the third game of the match. A string of unforced errors on Kadhe’s forehand made the job easier for him.
The man from Pune showed an inspired fight though, broke back in the very next game, and refused to make the set a cakewalk for his opponent.
Bhambri did not let his failure to consolidate the break take the better of him and in a show of cool precision, got his second break of the match. It was a straightforward affair for the right-hander after that, as he retained his serve with ease and broke yet again in the last game to pocket the first set, 6-3.
The final break enabled him to serve ahead in the second set and it paid off as he managed to win the first game, albeit after a tight tussle.
The local boy was taken to deuce twice in the very next game but managed to serve himself out of the trouble. The momentum was on his side now and was on display immediately, as the 23-year-old notched up a couple of spirited returns to break Bhambri for a lead of 2-1.
Bhambri refused to extend an olive branch to the youngster though, and took him to the cleaners in the very next game, setting up three colossal breakpoints for himself. He converted on his second chance to take the set back to square one, at 2-2.
Both the players held their serve in the next five of games, constructing the set collectively for a perfect finish at 5-4.
That’s when Bhambri brought his tour experience in play and received Kadhe’s thunderous serve with efficiency and played his shots to textbook perfection. He sealed the taut encounter with the second match point of the evening to go through to the event’s next stage.